Cinema Psycho

"You know what? You have a losing personality." – Manhattan

Fear Is the New Fear: A Help Line Tries to Legitimize Ignorance Towards Horror Films

Posted by CinemaPsycho on August 5, 2013

Lately I’ve been wondering if I might have a touch of Asperger’s. Seriously. I’m not saying that as a joke (I’m not a morning radio DJ); it’s something I’ve been seriously considering. The things that people say and do (and think and believe) baffle me that much. I don’t know that I actually have it, but it would explain a lot. Recently Diane Kruger’s character on The Bridge has become my fictional hero (if you haven’t seen the show, check it out sometime; it’s excellent). If you know the show you probably get what I mean. Or maybe not. Anyway, I think it’s safe to say that as I get older I find society to be more and more bizarre; hence my last couple of blog posts. I just don’t get you guys sometimes. The fascination with the Royal Baby, for instance. Hey, rich British people can procreate! That’s great for them. Can you get to the actual news now? Or, sports. A bunch of millionaires playing children’s games. That’s what you’re rooting for. None of them are from your cities. You do know that, right? You’re all against immigration, unless they can throw a ball. Then let ’em in! Do you see now why I think I have Asperger’s?

All of this is a bizarre introduction to the real subject, but maybe it will help you understand my point of view on it. I happened to see a TV commercial the other night that completely blew my mind. I wasn’t planning to write about it at first, but the more I think about it, the more I think I have to say something. I don’t know who the ad agency was who created this, or even the name of the company that commissioned it. But it really made me think that we are moving backwards intellectually, and that scares me far more than the horror movies the people behind it are so afraid of.

It was basically an ad for a “family help line”, I guess for people who don’t know how to deal with their own kids and need advice. I don’t know any people like that, but I suppose they are out there. So they had different actors playing parents calling in with different problems. I really wasn’t paying attention to most of them and don’t remember them that well. But this one guy was apparently supposed to be calling from his teenage son’s room. On the wall was a laughable recreation of a horror movie poster, with a vague-looking zombie on it and the word “ZOMBIE” in big white letters above it (not like the infamous poster for Lucio Fulci’s Zombie, which freaked me out as a kid; this was far more generic). This was hysterically funny to me because no movie poster would ever look like that. It was absolutely ridiculous. So the “father” is talking on the phone to the help line and he says, “My kid is watching movies that are DARK and ANGRY.”

I was stunned by this at first. Dark and angry? What?? Then I remembered the poster on the wall. He’s talking about… horror movies. You know, the movies that millions of people around the world watch. They’re equating watching horror movies to having emotional problems.

My first reaction was, are they fucking serious? Then my second reaction was… Yes. They are.

I don’t even know where to begin with this one. I know that there have always been people who are ignorant towards horror films, and films in general. I’m well aware of that. But for some ad agency to actually create a commercial that attempts to legitimize those ridiculous and unfounded fears… that boggles my mind. I don’t know if this “help line” is sponsored by some sort of religious organization, or a nefarious right-wing group, or something else. I don’t even want to speculate on that. I will say that whoever is behind this is completely misguided and out of their fucking gourds.

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I shouldn’t have to explain this, but millions of people watch horror films. Teenagers and adults. Very few of them turn into violent criminals. If the kid’s jerking off to the gore scenes, then you have a problem. Hang up the damn phone and be glad he’s not getting the girl next door pregnant, buddy. Watching George Romero movies doesn’t make your kid the next school shooter. Maybe it means… he likes zombie movies? Like a lot of other people? He watches The Walking Dead? He has a curiosity about things that are outside the mainstream, perhaps? He wants to explore the world of entertainment beyond Two and a Half Men reruns? Is that not OK now? As far as the absurd “dark and angry” comment goes – a lot of movies are “dark and angry” if you think about it for more than two seconds. All the President’s Men is “dark and angry”. Double Indemnity is “dark and angry”. Born on the Fourth of July is “dark and angry”. And there are reasons for that. Do we have to shield our children from those films too? Let’s protect them from truth and reality while we’re at it.

Let me let you in on a little secret – I wasn’t allowed to watch horror films as a teenager, and I still had problems. Maybe I could have used some good old-fashioned cathartic fictional bloodshed as a release. At the very least, the subversive humor of directors like Romero or Stuart Gordon might have helped me get through it all with my sanity intact. But I was allowed to watch Clint Eastwood and Charles Bronson movies and the like, where I learned that violence solves everything and whoever has the biggest gun wins. How fucked up is that? Talk about dark and angry…

Here’s what the anti-horror, anti-Hollywood people don’t understand and probably never will. Art should challenge the status quo, not reinforce it. Art should provoke and ask questions. Art should make us think, not put us into a stupor. We don’t need to be “saved” from independent thought. We don’t need to be “saved” from fictional horror. If you want to be concerned about something, be concerned about the real horrors that happen in our world every single day. Is there a “help line” for that? 1-800-REALITY? If so, it’s probably busy from people calling it every minute of every day. Be concerned about murder and rape and child abuse, not what fucking MOVIES people are watching.

Because monster movies are fine, but it’s other human beings that scare the hell out of me. If these assholes want to be afraid of something, they should look in the mirror, not the movie screen.

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4 Responses to “Fear Is the New Fear: A Help Line Tries to Legitimize Ignorance Towards Horror Films”

  1. schmuckraker said

    Superbly written!! I will definitely link this on my site prominently

    Sent from my iPhone

  2. Thanks man! I really appreciate that.

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